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Broadcast Email Policy

Purchase College Broadcast E-mail Policy – 2017

Email is a convenient way to communicate information to the campus community, and as a result there are a tremendous number of requests for campus-wide broadcast e-mail messages. 

Email is popular because you can push your message into peoples mailbox, reaching a larger audience than you would by posting your message to a web site where people have to actively seek it out (websites are a pull channel.) However, the convenience of pushing email at everyone has to be balanced against the burden this places on the time and attention of the College community.  Their time and attention is too precious a resource to subject to a fire-hose of poorly targeted email that is not timely, relevant, and of interest to the recipient. We have all heard complaints about the volume of messages we receive - and we have all heard others say they don’t read any of our broadcast messages – and who miss important information as a result.

It is essential to avoid overuse of broadcast email that diminishes the effectiveness of this channel.

As Stamats notes, sending out an email message does not mean you have effectively communicated your message. Effective communication requires that you say the right thing, at the right time, to the right audience.

The college offers a variety of push/pull communication channels including email, distribution lists, and our web site. It is important that we avoid over-reliance on email broadcasts and employ the right mix of channels, messages, and audiences to communicate effectively with the campus community.

Broadcast Message Volume over the last 10 years has increased by 500%

  • July 2007 to June 2008:    311 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2008 to June 2009:    745 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2009 to June 2010:    884 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2010 to June 2011: 1,086 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2011 to June 2012: 1,339 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2012 to June 2013: 1,365 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2013 to June 2014: 1,179 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2014 to June 2015: 1,300 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2015 to June 2016: 1,450 Broadcast Messages
  • July 2016 to June 2017: 1,553 Broadcast Messages

By far the highest monthly volume of broadcast email is during April and September – just when people are busiest, we are bombarding them the most.  So while it is easy to use email as a communication channel, it is also easy to see why people tune it out.

It is critical that the messages we send are relevant, they are clearly written, they are accurate the first time, and they are sent to the right recipients (and not just “everyone.”) 

Broadcast Email Etiquette

Campus-wide e-mails should be sent out to inform the campus of important announcements, events, or alerts that affect the entire campus.

Campus broadcasts should only occur if there is a reasonable expectation that the message would be of interest to a significant portion of the college community. If your weekly meeting of the Obscure Society typically draws the same ten dedicated souls and meets in a small windowless room, sending an invitation to 10,000 people doesn’t really make sense – they won’t all come, they won’t all fit, and most likely you’re just annoying 9,990 of them with yet another piece of spam they have to delete.

Select your target audience carefully - with laser focus if possible. The time and attention of the campus community is a precious a resource. 

Avoid sending Corrections and Reminders – take the time to get the message right the first time, and promote your deadline or event using the Master Calendar, web site, portal, and distribution list.  

Broadcast email should only be used for official College purposes. Broadcast email should NOT be used to promote products, activities or services that have not been endorsed by the appropriate unit within the College (Job Fairs should be endorsed by Career Development, Overseas Programs should be endorsed by the Office of International Programs, etc.) It should go without saying that broadcast email is not the place to sell your car or rent an apartment.

Start and promote a Distribution List (DL) for those who have participated in similar activities or who have expressed an interest – and allow people to Opt-in and opt-out of your weekly message to that list – and work to make sure that it is a source of valuable information. When you send your broadcast message, use the Distribution List as the destination address, include instructions at the bottom for unsubscribing, and honor those requests in a timely fashion. Promote your distribution list as a source of valuable information on your website, Facebook page, etc.  

In any case, high quality content is far more important than how many copies you are distributing.

Tell us what is in the message and why we should look at it

E-mail messages should always include a descriptive subject line. This serves to entice people to open your message and read further, as well as to relieve them form opening the message if it clearly isn’t something they are interested in. Subject line “News from CTS” – Ho-Hum… Subject line “Your email account will be purged Tuesday at 4:00” - uh-oh.

Tell us who it is from

Marketing studies also say that people are far more likely to open a message when it comes from a real person i.e. “Bill Junor” - than when it comes from an institutional address like “(CTS.Director)” - delete.

Broadcast email Definition:

Any message transmitted to the entire “campus Community” or to an entire cohort (all students, all faculty, all staff) or to any combination thereof is considered a “broadcast message” requiring workflow approval.

School and divisional distribution lists (i.e. LAS students, NS Majors, Sociology Board of Study, a specific class list,  etc.) are NOT considered broadcast messages since the heads of each area already have the necessary rights to distribute those messages themselves, without workflow approval.

Similarly, off campus distribution lists (i.e. Friends of Music, Friends of the Library, etc.), are NOT considered broadcast messages since the heads of each area already have the necessary rights to distribute those messages themselves, without workflow approval.

Who can request a campus-wide e-mail message?

Any member of the Purchase College community can request that a campus-wide message be sent out by submitting a request through the Broadcast Email Messaging (BEM) System. Broadcast requests are automatically routed to the department head for approval, and to the appropriate Vice President or College Officer. Only the VPs/Officers can authorize broadcast emails.

For broadcast requests created by Students, those requests are routed to Student Affairs for workflow approval.

Who will receive a campus-wide broadcast e-mail message?

Campus-wide messages can be sent to all campus-wide e-mail server users. Campus-wide messages can also be sent to other e-mail servers or to external e-mail addresses if the requestor includes external addresses (individuals or Distribution Lists) as part of their request.

The request must specify the audience to receive the message. Broadcast messages can be sent to   1) all faculty 2) all staff, or 3) to all students. These three categories (and others such as residents by wing or students by division) can be combined as necessary to reach the desired audience.

The BEM system allows the originator to specify as many destination addresses as necessary, and those addresses can be a combination of campus addresses and off campus addresses.

Please note that Deans/Directors/Chairs of academic divisions already have the ability to send messages to students and/or faculty/staff within their division themselves.

What can be sent out in a BEM e-mail message?

The BEM system allows creation of rich media messages that are compact and efficient. You can embed graphics, links, and attachments as necessary. In addition, the BEM system contains a variety of general and specific graphical templates for various campus organizations that help to create an attractive presentation wrapper for your message.

Please note that many email servers on the recipient end restrict attachment size to 10mb.

When should I use Email versus the website, the Portal, and the Master Calendar?

To communicate effectively, you should use all these channels in a coordinated fashion.

  • Make sure your message is on your website. You can include far more extensive information on a web page with photos, video, etc than you can in an email. Find out who the web content manager for your area is, and ask them to post the information, or ask them to create a page that you can edit and maintain. If you do decide to use the broadcast email channel, your brief email message should include a link to this additional information on your web site.
  • Use the Portal pages. The Portals contain the “Think Wide Open” scroll bar that highlights stories and events. Stories and Events can be added by Content Managers within each office/academic division using the Live Whale Content Management System (CMS). Your story or Event can appear on your unit’s web page, the Portal Pages, and maybe even the College’s Home Page. Our website was “built for crowdsourcing” – we want your announcements, stories, and events up there front and center where everyone can see them.
  • Space for events must be reserved and approved thorough the RoomBook scheduling system. After you have successfully reserved the room for your event in RoomBook, go into the LiveWhale CMS and create an event there with graphics and descriptions, and share it with the “Portals” group. Please do not use email to promote an event that you haven’t put into the calendar – people won’t be able to locate your email message as the event approaches, and will look for it on the calendar, and if you haven’t actually reserved the room, they may even show up to find some other event in progress.
  • Consider using the Distribution list for a particular segment of the community. There are existing distribution lists for each school, each board of study, campus residents, commuters, etc. If you don’t have the rights to send to the right distribution list, find out who does and ask them, or start your own distribution list.
  • Select your audience carefully - with laser focus if possible. If your message applies to students in certain majors with a certain range of credits who live on campus, create a list for that audience.